If your business has a website, you should have a comprehensive set of terms and conditions (Ts&Cs) along with a terms of use and privacy policy to ensure compliance with the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) and regulations relevant to your products and services. Your website’s terms and conditions act as a contract between your company and the people making purchases through your site, as well as manage your personal risk online.

Terms of Use vs. Terms and Conditions

Although terms of use and Ts&Cs are used interchangeably, they have two distinct functions, and as such, it’s prudent to have both. A website’s terms of use set out how people can and cannot use your content and site. On the other hand, a website’s Ts&Cs apply to your business’ customers  (i.e. people who purchase goods and services). Your terms of use will still bind visitors to your site even if they are just browsing.

What Do They Have to Cover?

Website terms of use will usually cover the following:

  • Copyright protection;
  • A disclaimer of liability (in case the content on your website contains information that is incorrect);
  • Details of how people may use your site, including prohibiting malicious or offensive comments, spam and limiting the distribution of your content without permission; and
  • How your site will handle personal information (your privacy policy will address this in greater detail).

The Ts&Cs will cover additional provisions for those who are making purchases through your site. The exact provisions will naturally depend on the type of business you have and what products or services you offer, but standard Ts&Cs will set out:

  • How customers can pay for goods or services;
  • The process, method and time of delivery; and
  • Your policies on refunds, returns and the exchange of goods (these must also comply with the consumer guarantees as set out in the ACL).

It’s important that you tailor your Ts&Cs to reflect your business’ industry, size and location. You can read more in our article, terms and conditions for online retailers. 

Don’t Copy Another Business

As a lean business operation and likely, a time-poor founder, the cost of getting website Ts&Cs tailored to your business may seem like an unnecessary cost. It’s tempting to then “borrow” these from another website’s page. If however, the Ts&Cs reference another jurisdiction to resolve disputes or rely on another country’s consumer law, they may prove useless for your business.

The Legal Effect Of Terms And Conditions

Ensure your Ts&Cs are comprehensively drafted and clearly set out your rights and obligations so if you are in a dispute, the mediator or judge presiding over your matter can interpret your agreement. If there is a provision that is too general and doesn’t relate to your business operations, it might be an invalid clause and likely unenforceable. A lawyer can review your Ts&Cs and explains to you the effect of Australia’s consumer law on your business and how you can company with the applicable guarantees.

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If you have any questions or need assistance drafting your business’ website Ts&Cs, get in touch with our online lawyers on 1300 544 755.

Annie Gunn

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